I returned to my old neighborhood yesterday. Todos Santos Plaza is located in Downtown Concord, California. It is always an interesting place to spend your time. You can hear BART whiz by. You can experience real metropolitan traffic complete with one way streets and the thrill of the hunt for suitable parking. It offers a nice mix of fun little restaurants, a huge Farmer’s Market twice a week, and yes, sketchy characters and transients. The bums are top notch, and they are wanderers who flail around and stop to yell and speak their minds.
It was so perfect that the belligerent bum who was yelling obscenities into the street was yards away from me after I pulled out a bunch of cash from the ATM for my hair appointment. I went into stealth mode and entered my car through the passenger side just to keep things exciting. If the kids were with me, the choreography wouldn’t have been as smooth.
I decided to go back to the hole-in-the-wall hair salon and visit Tammy again after almost three years. Tammy is an amazing lady. I feel ashamed that I even attempted to get a haircut or color service by anyone else. I tried my mom’s hair salon (also another hole in the wall), but the owner of that establishment is known to leave customers alone, stranded with the foils in their hair while she goes to “Pick up her daughter real quick”. Mom enjoyed that.
I’ve gone to the high-end pretentious salons that have fancy vacuum systems to get rid of fallen hair very soon after they are detached from the client’s head and are not really anything to write home about when it’s all said and done. Tammy doesn’t pretend. Tammy doesn’t leave her customers alone in the shop. Tammy tells me, “I’ll take care of you, Hon. It’s been long time. But I remember you”.
Shortly after my arrival, she wrestled with the overgrown potted plant that took up a corner of the salon and also blocked part of her price list. She made this effort just so I could be comfortable in the chair. After a brief consultation, she set me up, and she went to work with the color. I cozied up with my book and occasional wandering eyes.
KB Hair and Nail Salon is Small Business LEGIT. The random 50 gallon fish tank. The Holy Mother Mary. The other two clients in the salon getting a perm and debriefing about Thanksgiving. They were Golden Girls-esque. The gossip. The concrete brick walls that lacked any color and the exposed pipe. Haphazard wires connected a flat screen TV to the wall. A college football game was on, but no one was really paying attention.
To add to the amazing ambiance, the same belligerent bum that I’d encountered earlier even came by! The door was wide open due to the perm fumes, so we got to experience belligerent bum full force at maximum volume. Tammy just responded with, “He knows not to go into people’s shops”. Again, she took care of me. She made me feel safe. Later on, she told me a story about her son that melted my heart and made me think about my future 14-year old son who is now currently 20 months old.
My hair turned out fabulous (by my standards), and I only paid $75 for cut and color. She made my hair soft and pretty again. After I squared up my payment, she asked me to write my name down on an index card so she can start a file for me about my future color treatments. I appreciated this low-tech method of getting to know her clients.
Now I truly know the meaning behind Small Business Saturday. The proud owners of small businesses put their heart and their lives into their jobs. They do what it takes to make real connections to customers and clients. Tammy is my Un-Fancy hero. She is the reason that I will go back and visit downtown Concord every 8-10 weeks. Thank you Tammy. Thank you, Small Businesses. The world is full of expectation, comparison, and suffering about it all. The magic of a small business can help keep it all balanced.
Now, as a consumer I have #smallbusiness goals in mind.
What are your favorite small businesses?
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■ Elementary Educator for Equity & Cultural Responsibility
■ Collector of Small Moments & Thrifty Finds
■ Wife & Mother
■ Bay Area, CA